Guest Post: Do the Fans own the Artists?

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from David Mac. I am running this despite the fact that I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says—because I thought he expressed his viewpoint cogently enough to earn a hearing (and because he has contributed so much to the discussions on this blog to earn credentials as a vital member of this community; I likely would not have run a column on the same topic from a first-time visitor). Oh, and the Red Bull reference sealed the deal! – Daniel

Do the fans own the artists?

This question is vexatious, as is the subject at large – the seemingly never ending cycle of coming and going within southern gospel music groups. Is there genuinely a problem? And, is there anything about the management of change which can be changed for the better in the future?

The following quotes all came out of the same thread on this blog as a result of the [shock horror] announcement that Tim Duncan is leaving / has already left Ernie Haase and the Signature Sound Quartet, or EHSS as the group is commonly referred to in blog-sphere shorthand.

The reactions have varied across the blogs, and run the gamut of emotional reaction from feigned indifference to intrusive speculation, that Timmy is/was: a) sacked, b) joining another group, c) not recovered from past illness, d) wasting away, e) suffering from cancer, f) been abducted by little green men, g) none of the above.

Take your pick – only one of the above postulations is correct! Strange though it might seem the correct answer is (g) and so the WHY we are not actually privy too.

The BIG question is: What should we know?

One commenter put forward this viewpoint: “Fans have No right to such information!!. For your 10, 15 or 20 dollars you Do Not get the right to know unpublished information nor who will sing what song!!! of the many problems with SG !..Fans think they own the artists!~ What you Do have a right to is to see the group you paid for!.. It. That group now consists of different members or if they have the members switched around..So Be It !”

It is not so difficult to see how this, legitimate enough, position may be argued against. Let us step back a little and consider. A southern gospel group – any group – is a not a band but a BRAND, especially a “supergroup” with a global reach such as EHSS. We might suggest the “Gaither” brand is the Coca-Cola of southern gospel music, in which EHSS may be Red Bull. Both are packaged and presented in such a way to appeal to a stable but growing “customer” base across the globe, not just in the southern states of the US. Both appeal to a definite “taste” and a consumer sector across the world markets.

We buy into the EHSS brand because we like their products, they appeal to our tastes and to own their merchandise says something about us which we are comfortable to project as part of our own “image.” Do the Fans own the Artists? Absolutely not. But, here is the crux of the matter I think, EHSS [as an example] is not just an entity which sells and performs. It is not just an organization, it is in fact an organism! Ernie is a real person – truly – with a real wife and an extended family, not a stage family but real living breathing feeling hurting emotionally connected people. So is Tim, he is not just a Voice or a Bass Singer, he is a person, weary, worn, lonely, happy [whatever] with a wife and two teenage sons who surely must miss him desperately when he is absent often. Thus the pull between footlights and fireside which Jake Hess often reminded us of. So Tim, the person, is lost to us –for a time – and going back to his family, perhaps for a time. BUT, the “No such right” commenter IS right in this respect, we should be satisfied with what we ARE told, and in a dignified Christian manner, pry no further. Pray not pry. Period.

Another commenter remarked, by contrast, “I understand both sides! I saw them right after their last change [David Mac edit: when Ryan left]. It didn’t affect me because I had never seen them before and I did not have a favorite of any member. I agree that it is their life and they have to do what is best for the group and their families.” So, here is another matter – some “fans” have formed association with groups, or members, over time and truly care about the people as well as the product. To listen to the Tribute CD gives me goose-bumps after 100 plays, yet to talk to Ernie, Doug, Tim, Devin and Wayne once, is to connect with real Christian men who love to sing about the gospel and who connect with their support base in a special way. Though the “brand” remains constant, and the contents perform as the label says – and few, if any, want a refund – yet what Donne the English poet said was so right, “No man is an island entire of itself. Each one is… a part of the main.” For some to lose Timmy’s presence is significant, for others as long as the new guy makes an OK bass noise it won’t really matter!

Where the line needs to be drawn is between the WHEN and the WHY. To manage the change so as not to destabilize the position of the “brand” is crucial. That is a marketing reality. One genuine fan who really bought a ticket just to see Tim, and who went home saddened because they had no prior knowledge of his going, is one fan too many; if it is at all avoidable. One of the most poignant regrets in life; and suffered at times by most of us is, “I didn’t get to say good bye!” Yet the pressure on the outgoing member to say “Good bye” AND sing – for a week or a month surely is immense, as Daniel himself commented; “It would have to be incredibly tough on the person leaving during that period, unless he’s been there so long as to be a legend. After concerts, he’d have constant inquiries about his health, where he was going, why he was leaving, what kind of terms he was leaving on, ad infinitum. Put yourself in that person’s shoes, and it quickly becomes a whole lot easier to see why some people don’t want that kind of fuss!” The counter argument should consider the psycho-spiritual pressures generated by followers who – as is often the case – know the mind of God for us far more clearly than we do ourselves, “God told me to tell you to stay” is not an impossible response to a sincerely expressed “Good bye”! If, perchance, the member departing is leaving on family or undisclosed health grounds, for example, the psychological pressures will be immense. If the person is of a shy nature – as Tim Duncan appears to be – the very fear of the prolonged departure may precipitate a walk-out instead, so the latter end will be worse than the first. Perhaps this, above all, is the reason why many of the changes in SGM are NOT flagged up in advance?

Is there a reasonable, Christian compromise? I humbly suggest the following might be practiced to profit in the management of change in SGM:

  1. agree a ‘bowing out’ period with the outgoing member, once the group manager has been notified of their intent, possibly covering a minimum number of appearances.
  2. appoint a replacement and a start date, before the outgoing member departs, so that continuity is presented, and both may appear together.
  3. announce the change in advance, who is leaving when, and who is coming in, and when from in relation to tour dates / appearances etc.
  4. agree in advance how much of the “Why” should and will be told. Before the departure and after.

Perhaps this simple model would alleviate a lot of the speculation and sensationalism in SG group changes – though it might reduce the blog-column-inches as well! The SG business has garnered – and not totally unfairly – a “Revolving Doors” reputation over the years. Publicity is the oxygen that drives a brand, but contrary to marketing speak, not all publicity is beneficial especially in light of the greater goal; spreading, in song and testimony, the gospel of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

Where there are problems in the life of a member which are severely damaging to the testimony – not only of the individual, but also the group associated with, and in fact the testimony of the body of Christ – then the only recourse would be immediate withdrawal. In such case, in keeping with New Testamant teaching it might also be better if this were so said. Sensational or salacious detail is never necessary but something of the nature of “…… is no longer able to perform with …. due to circumstances in their life which are inconsistent with what is expected of a believer in the Lord Jesus.”

What do the other commenters think?

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64 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. First of all, I will say that I feel this was very well written (though more paragraph breaks may have been helpful)

    When you talk about fans forming friendships with the group and its individuals, I absolutely agree with that, and I am in that bunch. However, I also realize that no matter how much I dislike the change, we as fans still aren’t in the place to tell the individual they need to stay.

    I will sum it all up by saying this: Are you a fan of the group, or are you only a fan of one individual in the group?

    • Excellent point. There are some of each for me, and for most of us.

      But then, there are groups that have identity apart from their owner/manager, and others that don’t. Take the Kingdom Heirs and the Inspirations: Both have a certain sound, and both hire singers to fit that sound. They have distinct group identities.

    • Thanks Josh,

      excellent rejoinder indeed!

      [I thought 2 paragraphs were too long – but there you go :-)]

  2. I think the “model” you posted for a personnel change is an ideal one, but I don’t think it is always possible to do it that way.

    One danger in today’s world of the internet is the erosion of privacy. As facebook continues to explode, people are gradually starting to feel like they have a right to know, or need to know, things about the personal lives of others; they are seeing it every day, every time they log on to that site. Facebook and the internet give people a place to seek the information, and a place to share it with others.

    The bottom line is this: what happens in the personal lives of others is none of our business unless they make it our business by telling us directly. Southern gospel fans, who are supposedly Christians, need to be the leaders taking a stand here. What do the fans have a “right” to know? The answer is nothing. That applies to the lives of your favorite singer, your next door neighbor, your mail man, and everyone else.

    Does it lead to speculation when nothing is said about why there was a personnel change? Unfortunately it does, but that doesn’t make it right. Christians need to stop putting so much focus on the individuals on the stage, and start focusing on the One they are singing about. If you are upset to the point of discouragement that your favorite group member left, then why were you listening to the music in the first place? Probably for the wrong reason.

    Some fans claim that they become friends with the artists, and that’s all well and good. But if you were close enough friends to be involved in their personal lives, they would involve you of their own volition. Otherwise, keep out.

    I don’t mean to sound harsh, but this is a big deal to me. Christians that I know personally, and those I’ve interacted with online at times, have a major problem with this issue. Satan loves to see people talking about each other, for two reasons: it will inevitably cause discouragement in someone’s Christian walk, and it will keep them from focusing on serving the Lord. Let’s keep our eyes on Christ, and off of others.

    • “Christians need to stop putting so much focus on the individuals on the stage, and start focusing on the One they are singing about.”

      Brian, absolutely nailed it bro!

      BTW: This blog hasn’t debated facebook as an influence in my time. I suspect the Den Master might agree with me on that subject, but not for here and now.

  3. I think you said it, David. I agree with Brian that the erosion of privacy is a big problem, but I don’t think your post is going there at all. It seems pretty clear to me why Tim left – I don’t see any big reasons; it was just his personal choice, and I don’t have to know all the details of how he agonized it out.

    We’re just talking about trying to handle the situations without awkwardness. I don’t see having to give fans months of notice. If you buy a ticket months ahead, you’ll invariably get disappointed once in a while, even if it’s just due to sickness.

    I have one new suggestion that just occurred to me. Let reticent group members have their privacy; even make change announcements effective immediately if you feel you need to in this case. But why not pick one event, like the big one they’ve been selling tickets to in advance, and ask Tim (in this case) to make a guest appearance there, and do a small tribute? I think it would have the same effect we’ve been asking for.

    • I.e., a group’s annual homecoming or self-hosted event? Now that’s a great idea.

      • Exactly. I don’t get why it has to be that big a deal. If there are good feelings on both sides, just take a few moments to let the people who care hear that last performance.

        An additional factor in my after-the-fact farewell suggestion is that it would reduce the “you can’t leave” effect. The change would already be an accomplished fact. You’d still have well-meaning folks as “blundersome” [new word alert] as the one who told Gerald, “I’m so glad you’re leaving so Roger can come back,” but as Roger said, “When you’re old you can say anything.”

        The only drawback I can see is that it would invite comparisons and maybe be a little tough on the new guy. But even then, it would be an opportunity for the last singer to show his approval and give the new one a pat on the back, so to speak.

    • I should make myself clear if I wasn’t in my original post. I was not accusing David or anyone else of anything…in fact, I agree with most of his post. I was just providing my own commentary.

      • Yes, I think I got that. And it’s one of my pet peeves as well. I was working in an office a few years ago and the registrar clerk came in bleary-eyed one morning. She had spent half the previous night watching the news to glean details on a celebrity’s death (Anna Nicole, if you’re interested).

      • We getting an lot of positivity here – which is nice :-)!

        We should keep asking – IF Timmy Duncan, and his boys, are reading this blog: is it helping in his transition or “as vinegar to the teeth”, as a wise man once said?

  4. “Christians need to stop putting so much focus on the individuals on the stage, and start focusing on the One they are singing about. ”

    That is well and good, and of course God deserves our focus and praise. However, using just that, we could just go to a concert by Daddy tin ear and mother monotone and are supposed to just accept it (and pay for it) simply because the one they are singing about deserves our focus and praise.

    • I didn’t say you should not pay attention to what someone sounds like. I have my own personal tastes. You shouldn’t pay for anything you don’t want to hear.

      I was referring to the idolizing many people do of other people, and wanting to know everything about them and their personal lives.

  5. I support suggestion #2 if at all possible when replacing an existing member. It would be exciting to see both members in concert and to know who the ‘new guy’ would be before the ‘old guy’ leaves 🙂 I also like the idea of the tribute to the departing member, which would only happen if he/she left on good terms and no hard feelings are present.

  6. I guess when you average a couple changes a year my idea wouldn’t work so well, but I’m just talking about your average group.

  7. First, I must say that this is the first time I have seen the word “vexatious” used in a Southern Gospel article before. 🙂 I do agree that I, as a fan or radio type person does not have a “right” to know why a person leaves a group, but I think Signature Sound has been very vanilla, vague, uninformative in their personnel changes and in a industry like this where people come to love and identify with the artist, it leaves a feeling of “wait a minute, what just happened here?!” As in this latest change, if Tim is suffering health wise, why not say so? It is a valid reason, there is absolutely no shame in that, and if I were in that position I would want people to be praying for me. But here, it is just, Tim is leaving, Ian is his replacement…nothing else. It just leaves things more open to speculation, rumor, etc. JMHO

  8. Here’s something to consider: When you leave a job, whether by your own decision or by being fired/laid off, how much of the information do you give to your co-workers, or for that matter, the general public?

    Last spring, I was fired from my job of 4 years, rather unexpectedly. I didn’t get to say goodbye to my co-workers, and I didn’t even get a chance to collect my belongings (they were boxed and waiting for me at the door). If you call my employer and ask them why I was fired, I guarantee you they will not give you a reason. Am I going to tell you why? I can, if you cared, but I just don’t feel like going into it. That’s my choice, and you just have to deal with it.

    Why should it be any different when someone leaves a gospel group? They are employed by the group owner, and when they leave, for whatever reason, that’s between the employer and the employee. End of discussion.

    What people fail to realize is that, at the end of the day, when singers relate with fans, take time with them, sign autographs, remember faces, etc….THAT’S PART OF THEIR JOB!!!! They need to sell, as David said, their brand.

    Think about it. Who are the groups with the most loyal fan base? The ones who take time out with their fans and “get to know them.” It makes the fans feel warm and fuzzy and makes them want to buy everything that artist puts out because “they’re my friends!”

    I’m not saying there aren’t artists out there who aren’t genuinely friends with some fans, but there are also a great deal of artist/fan relationships that are simply public relation.

    Now, don’t tell me that SG is the only place this happens. Ever have a really good waitress at a restaurant? Or a check-out clerk at the grocery store that always struck up a conversation with you? Customer relations – oldest trick in the book. Build a rapport. It’s actually in our training manual at work!!

    That being said, when one of the members of leaves, one has to keep in mind that, at the end of the day, they’re leaving a job. It’s not much different than your favorite waitress leaving a job at the local restaurant.

    • I think your beginning sentences are part of the problem for me, though. When you see employment end abruptly like that, you find a nagging thought in the back of your mind that maybe someone was at fault. I almost used a similar illustration in an earlier comment. In that case (not about me, but someone else) I believe the company was at fault.

      I’ve had several jobs during my college career where it was time for me to move on. We left with no hard feelings; my boss came to my graduation later; I could be quite open with everyone about why I was leaving. And we’re saying that, when possible, we’d like to see that applied to SG groups.

    • Great post. It is also in line with what Brian said earlier. If you as a fan were truly a friend of the individual in question you would know why they are leaving.

      I think that is where there is somewhat of a disconnect in Southern Gospel. The artist makes themselves available to the public (fan base) and automatically the fan thinks they have an inside connection.

      Don’t get me wrong, there are friendships made between artists and their fans and I don’t want to lessen the general fan’s response to being able to talk to their favorite artist at the product table after a concert.

      But at the end of the day take it for what it is. Friends talk on the phone, call each other to catch up on what is going on in their lives. Friends sit down and have meals together. Friends will communicate and talk to each other about more than just ‘I love your music.’

      My intent is not to be harsh but offer a bit of reality when thinking about are we truly friends or simply just fans.

    • “Why should it be any different when someone leaves a gospel group? They are employed by the group owner, and when they leave, for whatever reason, that’s between the employer and the employee. End of discussion.”

      They are ’employees’ of Jesus Christ, and therefore brothers in the Lord.

      kyle, while I sympathise fully with your personal employment loss, the spiritual dynamics should be hugely different: Don’t you think?

      • I agree with you to an extent…there are spiritual dynamics involved, but not to the extent that you see it.

        Southern Gospel Music, in and of itself, should be a tool used to worship God and bring people to Him. The Southern Gospel Music BUSINESS, however, is an industry that is designed to help that music be heard. That industry, if it is to survive, needs to have a business-oriented model, not a spiritual one.

        The SG industry is a rare one that walks a fine line. Those within the industry do their best to keep the SPIRITUAL aspect out front, but at the end of the day, it is still a business, and one that wants to be successful.

        While there are some exceptions, I’d say the majority of the full-time groups on the road today want to be able to make a profit. It is, however, their livelihood. A SG group is not a church or charity; they need to be able to make money to survive.

        Part of that, as I said before, is accomplished by having a strong BUSINESS ethic, which also includes making your workplace desirable for its employees. If one person is let go, and the public is told, “It’s because he did something wrong,” that can not only have a negative impact on any future members (“What if I do something wrong, then EVERYONE will know!!”), but also for the remaining members (“Man, I hope I’m not next!!”).

        Part of being in the spotlight, as SG artists are, is to practice strong public relations. That not only involves knowing what to say, it involves knowing what NOT to say. If someone doesn’t want the details of their departure made public, that’s their choice.

        From a strictly business standpoint, if all we do for them is buy their music and attend their concerts, then their only obligation to us is to produce quality music and stage an enjoyable concert.

      • I agree that negative info doesn’t normally need to be released. But why not release positive info? (If that reflects negatively on bad apples, it’s their problem.)

      • “If one person is let go, and the public is told, “It’s because he did something wrong,” that can not only have a negative impact on any future members (“What if I do something wrong, then EVERYONE will know!!”), but also for the remaining members (“Man, I hope I’m not next!!”).”

        We can’t keep the spiritual dimension, and ignore scriptural models due to the pressure of purely business/commercial models. That is why the balance must be a “compromise” of sorts.

        If a member was let go for serious moral error, it would be good if others said, “Man I hope I’m not next” – to fall in the same sin that is.

        “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear”. That is N.T. moral law, should be hide sin for commercial prosperity?

        If a member was let go for serious misconduct – say moral sin – I would hope that the

      • Umm Kyle, a church has to “make money” too or its doors will close. Besides salaries (if not run totally by volunteers), mortgage (unless paid off), insurance (if taken out), property taxes (I presume might have to be paid), they at least have utilities of some sort I presume.

  9. I generally don’t follow EHSS and I understand that I may be a minority in that fact as it relates to the Southern Gospel world. With that said, I only listen to their songs that pop up on my radar where it is a favorite or is so well arranged, written, voiced, etc. catches my attention. I have watched some YouTube videos and I think I’m still nauseated at the short neck tie period.

    I said that to say that I’m not attached to any one member of EHSS. However, the “revolving door” of the past year or so of Southern Gospel group members has been a topic all over this social but really disconnected internet. (Digressing here) How can “iron sharpen iron” with out the “assembling together” face-to-face? Another topic for another day maybe.

    The fact is each group member has a personal life where family is important and decisions responsibly need to be made that do NOT have any bearing on any Southern Gospel fan. There in, I think, is where the issue surfaces. Some, not all, fans think they have some interconnection with a person that is on the stage when, like John the Baptist, a person on stage is only pointing to the One, Jesus our Savior.

    I do like David’s model but at days end the choice comes down to really two people – the owner/manager and the group member. All of the considerations that David talked about plus more need to be considered. But again, at days end it doesn’t involve the fan base; should it consider the fan base? To some degree, yes. To what degree is personal and between them and not us the fans.

    Good topic and nicely done.

    • Looking at related post section to the right … the following link was given. about Roy Webb missing a DVD taping.

      I think, ironically, that is a great example of a Southern Gospel member sharing a very personal explanation. One that some might say could have been personal enough for just a “canned” response to the fan base. I’m sure prayer went up for Roy during that time of his life because of that sharing.

  10. I think I’ve given my thoughts on this before, but I’ll put them down again here.

    I think it’s possible to have a genuine concern for an artist without being under the impression that you “own” them. If a rumor goes around that one of your favorite artists is in poor health, one naturally feels worried. “I wonder whether he’s seriously ill. I hope he’s okay, etc.” Note that this is not motivated by any kind of “Ooooooooh, did you hear what I heard?” gossipy impulse.

    Regarding the fan-friend question: I wouldn’t call myself a “friend” of the artists I’ve met, or if so only jokingly. “Yes, that’s my ‘friend’ Wayne,” (read: my friend Wayne, with whom I spent all of about five minutes chatting).

    BUT, that does NOT mean that I don’t take an interest and a concern in their well-being or the reasons for a member’s loss. If I care about an artist, love their music, have a connection with them, then I am left wondering “Why?” I don’t demand intimate, personal details, as I have no right to them. However, I do want to know, very simply, whether everybody’s okay. And whether I can still respect an employee or an employer, because if something dishonorable happened that would cause somebody to lose my respect, I would not want to go on giving it to him unwittingly.

    • I don’t see anything wrong with being worried or concerned about anyone. We should be if we care about them. But I think the correct action would be to call or e-mail the person directly to ask, instead of talking about it with others, or in a public forum. That’s not to say someone asking publicly about it has evil intentions, but in that setting it’s hard to prevent passing of misinformation, and speculation from people that really don’t have best interests at heart.

      • Often a personal e-mail or phone is not available, and even if it were, many people would (I think naturally) consider it intrusive to take advantage of the availability of such information in this circumstance.

      • Well, if they have not made their phone or e-mail publicly available, it is because they don’t want the public calling or e-mailing them. And I agree that I would feel intrusive if I did use it, since I don’t have that kind of relationship with any artists.

        In both cases, that means the information is not for us to know. That doesn’t stop us from being able to pray for our favorite singers…you just won’t be able to be specific. But God knows everything, and that’s a comfort to know!

    • NSF – I really do like that last paragraph. Nicely considered comment and very restrained – for you 🙂 :-)!

      • Thank you David. 🙂

  11. Maybe my comments have sounded like I wanted lots of info or details about membership changes. I’m not meaning to argue for that. I don’t see the need. If a group states that everything is good, I’ll assume they’re not lying.

    But if a parting is made on good terms, I think that customer relations and all that good stuff would suggest a friendly farewell. It doesn’t seem that difficult, demanding, or intrusive. And SG’s business model inherently includes (now-a-days) some emotional connection with the fans.

  12. I completely agree that we do not have any “right” to know what happens behind the scenes. Whenever someone leaves any group, the employment details are between the employer and employee, period. That is the law, that is the right to privacy, and we the fans have to accept that. In that sense I fully agree with the person who wrote this article.

    Unfortunately, the reason that these situations become so big, especially in the blog/messageboard world, and why so many people post messages of dismay, disappointment, shock, anger, sympathy, etc. is because the fans tend to develop an emotional attachment to the artists. Many fans have spoken personally to one or more members of a group, and by that brief conversation, photo, autograph, or handshake they feel a kinship, and attachment to that particular group member. In other cases, there is simply the familiarity, the “family” atmosphere of the group. Every time they turn on a CD or DVD, or even more so when they attend a concert, the emotional “connections” with the group develop. Thus, when someone leaves, it feels like a death in the family, if not a divorce.

    If someone suddenly finds out that a relative or a close friend is getting divorced or died and there was no prior knowledge that anything was wrong, most people would wonder “Why?” or “What happened?” It may be none of their business, but it is a normal reaction. The same thing happens when, all of a sudden, we find out that someone is leaving or has already left our favorite group. The suddenness and unexpectedness of the announcement adds to the question/suspicion that “something just doesn’t seem right here.”

    One group that really did things right was Greater Vision back when Jason left. They announced it in advance, they even promoted his “final” concert with them, and gave him a great sendoff. There was no waking up by the fans one morning to discover he was gone and a replacement was already in place without anyone knowing about it.

    I ralize this isn’t always possible in the SG world. Sometimes breakups are just that — breakups. Sometimes there is bad blood between the person who left (whether volutarily or not)and the group owner. I’m sure the stress of being on the road and paying the bills can make people cranky and irritable at times. Egos, differences in opinion, separation with family, phone conversations with a grumpy spouse back home who is having a bad day, and a host of other things enter into the picture regularly. People are human and things happen, and we will never know everything. Human nature wants to speculate, and there will always be those who will. Some will always assume the worst.

    I don’t know what the answer is. I guess we can tell fans what they “need” to hear — namely that it is none of their business — but human nature isn’t usually satisfied with that.

  13. Since Southern Gospel music is still a business and EHSS is still a “For-Profit” company, let’s look at it this way. If I was to go and resign from my company today, most companies like to receive at least a two week notice. This gives them time to prepare for the change a look for someone to replace you. Now, I have also seen my company go ahead and let the person leave on the day they resign and just pay them for the remainnig two weeks, mostly because if the person’s heart is no longer loyal to that company, then they shouldn’t be representing that company, or because they already have someone to take their place. In this case, if Tim has resigned and lost his desire, why is it Ernie’s responsibililty to keep him out another two weeks just so people in Oregon and California can tell him goodbye? If he has decided not to be a part of the team anymore, then he does he really deserve a “farewell” tour?

    Another thing, maybe Tim doesn’t have any set plans right now for his future, thus the vagueness of the press release. If there’s nothing to say, why fill it with a bunch of fluff.

    Lastly, does anyone think it would be fair to Ian that Tim make a special appearance at previously announced concerts just because he was with the group when the date was booked. If that is the case, he’ll be making special appearances with EHSS until 2013. I love Tim like a brother. Will miss him. But the change has occured so why can’t we all move forward. We can’t go back and change things.

    Back before the days of Facebook and the Internet, I saw the Cathedrals one night in the spring of 1990. Imagine the shock on my face when it was not Danny Funderburke who walked out that night, but instead it was a tall skinny guy from Indiana. That was NOT who I came to see. But low and behold, 20 years later, there is not anyone I’d rather go see than the tall skinny guy from Indiana.

    When you go see EHSS or L5 or Gold City or whoever else in in the the midst of a change, you are going to see the groups themselves because of the memories they have given you. The guys singing are great, but the group is the reason most of us go. Continue to love these groups even if they have changes. I stil love the Cowboys even though Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman don’t play for them anymore.

    • That’s why I’m still looking forward to seeing EHSS in concert even though I miss Tim.


    • Chris, you make an interesting point. Do we really go to see the “group” as a whole, or do we go to see who is IN the group?

      Perhaps that was part of the problem with Gold City’s recent changes. They had brought in Roy Webb and Josh Cobb, two people who already had name recognition, in an effort to expand their audience, and I’m willing to bet that there were people who came to see Gold City simply because those two were in the group.

      • Well, I frequently see comments to the effect that it “won’t be [group name] without [group member].”

        Now technically that’s not true, but at the same it’s a natural sentiment.

    • What skinny guy? LOL.

      Actually the first part of that comment doesn’t really hold water, for this reason:

      Timmy didn’t leave the day he told Ernie he wanted to, did he?

      In actual fact, within the inner EHSS circle [12 good men and true] Tim DID “work his notice”, not so?

      If he was singing, when HE, and Doug & Devin beside him, knew he was going – WHY NOT THE AUDIENCE/FANS/CUSTOMERS too?

      Even if for only a few dates?

      Actually I would argue that, on the see-saw of commercial pressure v christian concern; MORE tickets would have been sold in that period than was, and folks travelled further too – to see Tim one last time.

      [For arguments sake, the boys could have appeared in the intermission only, not at the end on the product tables, or Tim not at all]

  14. Kyle et al,

    I think the comparison to you leaving a job has some merit, but is really comparing apples to oranges. A job in the public spotlight, with a regularly performing and touring musical group, is different than a regular office job.

    Music / performance art is really a unique world in and of itself, to the point that few if any other worlds quite compare. But take another field, politics: If someone suddenly resigns, everyone wonders why. (That’s even if it’s on the city council level.)

  15. So you all want to know why Tim left?

    “They are ‘employees’ of Jesus Christ, and therefore brothers in the Lord.”

    What if you found out it was for some horrific event that took place in his life? What if it was for major personal problems such as drugs, affairs, etc? What if he decided to become an Atheist? Would you then look at him as a shameful person who is not deserving of your friendship, encouragement, or love?

    You gotta think about things like this from the other persons shoes. Would you want the world knowing what is going on in your life and your employment simply because you sang to them on the stage employed by a gospel group? It makes no difference what the message is or how they connect to you, this is their personal life and something they are apparently choosing not to share. In other words, It’s none of your business. This is not to say I have any clue why this move was made, but what I can say is, if he wants to tell people why, he’ll do it.

    If you really want to show yourself as a “Brother in Christ” to someone you like as an entertainment or person, how about you let that person or that group do their thing without trying to dive in to every aspect of their personal decisions. Love your brother as yourself DOES NOT equal find out everything about your brothers situations and discuss for all the world to see over the internet no matter what they do….

    • “Would you then look at him as a shameful person who is not deserving of your friendship, encouragement, or love?”

      If such information were given, we would look at him as a person in need of prayer, which is the most loving thing anyone could do for him.

      • That’s correct, but it wouldn’t make him a different person. And it wouldn’t change the fact that he may want to keep things like that to himself. Or he simply just doesn’t feel like saying anything. That’s not for us to judge.

  16. I feel some of David’s frustration though when I see comments on facebook et al. like this:

    “I read yesterday that Doug was leaving. bummer.”

    WRONG! Ernie JUST recently confirmed that Doug is not going ANYWHERE, and there is NO evidence to the contrary.

    So people do need to think a little before they say things, and unfortunately not everyone does.

    • I gotta lotta frustration with facebook. Period. But that’s another story :-)!

      • Yeah. I’m delaying getting it as long as I can.

      • …and I sure don’t blame you. I can’t say I like it; it’s more a necessary annoyance – necessary indeed for what I do, but annoying indeed.

      • One more holdout here … I hashed out the issue with myself again a few months ago, and decided the cons outweighed the pros (being able to see baby pictures of my first cousins once removed).

        If my job required it, it would be different, I guess.

      • For my part, I was an early Facebook user (back when you had to be a college student to access it), but jumped off the bandwagon a couple years ago. I realized I couldn’t handle the temptation of seeing people’s personal lives put in front of me. When you can’t conquer a temptation, your only option is to remove yourself from the opportunity, and that’s what I did.

  17. Daniel

    Most artists understand that people want to know the “why” when group changes take place. Having been on both sides of the equation I can say the “why” is often not easily condensed into a press release.

    • Bob brings up a good point, which is that I think we sometimes assume artists are ABLE to give fans the information that will satisfy them. This may not always be the case, especially for something as brief as a press release.

    • Very good point!

    • OT: Was this Bob Caldwell from Won by One? If so, he’s one of my favorite bass singers! I played “Pray, Daniel, Pray” on the Won by One CD so many times.

  18. Being a performer is not always easy… Daniel, your last post hits it right on. It’s not always even about “leaving”, sometimes it’s simply about having an off night, and needing more “space”. Just this morning I was reading in Matthew (Ch 14) about the response of Jesus needing to pull away to process the murder of His cousin, John. Ironically, He tried. But, the crowds followed Him, and he had compassion on them and healed the sick. So, my comment ends up being more of a question than an answer…. how does anyone balance the pressures of public stature with the need for a private life? I find it a delicate and frustrating balance at times myself. Those in the public, to any degree, live a bit in a fishbowl whether you are a singer, elected official or even the God of the Universe, apparently.

  19. Even if there was an issue that has prompted Tim’s departure, I for one appreciate him and Ernie not airing their dirty laundry but taking the high road of a gentlemanly parting of the ways while preserving one another’s dignity and integrity.

    I choose to believe that the event is amicable as it’s being represented. And I pray that both parties will enjoy the blessing of the Lord going forward in whatever direction He leads them.

    • I agree with you—I appreciated the gentlemanly nature of the parting as well.

      I have never said that artists should air their dirty laundry, and I would also advise that people not assume that there is any dirty laundry to be aired.

    • I also believe it was amicable.

  20. The distinction between fans wondering why a person is leaving and being owed an explanation for the departure is the heart of all of this. You can wonder all that you like but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who the person is, they don’t owe anyone outside of their fellow group members an explanation.

  21. One aspect that drives this entire discussion could be our dreams or desires. What I mean is there can be (perhaps on a subconscious level) the personal desire to sing with an elite group like EHSS. To us, singing with a high caliber group like EHSS would be a “dream job.”

    So, when it is announced that a member of a quartet on the level of EHSS is leaving, we cannot imagine anyone wanting to leave them. (After all, we would never leave a group like that!) Therefore, we assume there has to be a reason, and that it would have to be a “bad” reason for someone to leave a group at the top of its game.

    There’s nothing wrong with wanting to know why someone leaves a group… but when we make suggestions, accusations, or even demands, we can cause great hurt to that group, the individual, and their families. We need to be careful that our personal desires do not lead us into doing harmful things. (James 1:14)

    • You know Wade, we might “think” we would never leave a job like that, but look at history. English, Lowry and Phelps all left the Vocal Band. Funderburk, Trammell, Bennett and Wolfe left the Cathedrals. Parker, Free, Jones, Wilburn, Ladd etc. left Gold City. etc.

      Look at men with absolutely beautiful wives who either have affairs, get divorced etc. sometimes to end up with someone less beautiful (at least physically). Granted we don’t know what happens behind the scenes or how the wife is there (not a statement on divorce or getting into theology here) just meaning we only see from the outside. The same thing applies to groups. Even some of the vocalists above probably had it real good though and just got bored. As I recall, Lowry as much said his was being there for so long and wanting something new (if he didn’t say he was bored).

      Even when we have it all we can get restless and not appreciative. Now, I am not saying one way or the other with Duncan, just saying at times we might want change no matter how good things are.

      • I also think that even though that report may have been false, it’s entirely possible that Duncan was burned out physically to some extent. Which would be an understandable reason for wanting to come off the road.

  22. Well, Ian’s first concert is probably wrapping up. Youtubers, to work tomorrow scouring for videos! Fingers crossed we’ll find something in decent quality.

    • You know I will be…

  23. “One danger in today’s world of the internet is the erosion of privacy. As facebook continues to explode, people are gradually starting to feel like they have a right to know, or need to know, things about the personal lives of others; they are seeing it every day, every time they log on to that site. Facebook and the internet give people a place to seek the information, and a place to share it with others.”

    I agree with the erosion of privacy. When I first got a Facebook account I never thought of trying to find the accounts of individual members. Then when I saw that I had friends that were “friends” with SG artists I started requesting them as friends as well. I was amazed that they added me seeing that I really didn’t know these people.

    The funny thing was that I started feeling weird because I was getting to see the private lives of these people and I didn’t really know them.

    I started realizing that I really didn’t want to see into the private lives of these artists because it might change the perception I had of them. Because I might discover habits or attitudes that I personally don’t agree with and then that would affect my view of that artists and that group.

    Maybe a little mystery would be better so I deleted those people as friends, and you know none of them sent me an email or called me to find out why I had dropped them. 🙂